The meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Gender and Women's Affairs was held in Gaborone, Republic of Botswana, on 23 June 2016 to review progress in implementing the regional gender programme.
The meeting was officially opened by the Speaker of the National Assembly in Botswana, Ms Gladys Kokorwe, who underscored "that gender equality is not just a phenomenon, but a reality that we all have to embrace if we are to achieve international, continental, regional and national sustainable development."
The SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, emphasised that "women's and girls' economic empowerment sets a direct path towards achieving gender equality and is a critical element of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."
However, for this to be achieved, it requires "all actors, whether governments, international institutions, civil society organizations or the private sector, to move beyond 'business as usual' and employ new ways of thinking and acting," she added.
The SADC Gender Ministers also reviewed the amendments to the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and agreed to submit the draft Amended SADC Protocol on Gender and Development to the relevant structures for clearance and subsequent approval and signature by Summit of Heads of State and Government.
Dr Tax highlighted that for the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development to benefit the SADC region, "an enabling institutional environment is required to eliminate the challenges that hinder the achievement of gender equality and equity."
The meeting was chaired by Honourable Edwin J. Batshu, Minister of Labour and Home Affairs in Botswana. In his remarks, Hon. Batshu applauded the SADC Gender Ministers for the achievements attained during the course of his tenure, including the adoption of the SADC-sponsored Resolution on Women, the Girl Child and HIV and AIDS. The SADC-sponsored UN Commission on the Status of Women Resolution 60/2 was adopted in New York in March 2016.
The next meeting of SADC Gender Ministers will be held in the Kingdom of Swaziland at a date and venue to be announced in due course.